Freeform Katia

Vacations

Arizona Trip and travelling with a toddler

Day 1: I was in Texas and all I got to do was pee

We flew Continental — and I have to say, it was great. No major delays, we made all our connections, and our baggage made it too. That said, we were a little late getting out of Philly… and our layover in Houston was reduced to 15 min. Thankfully our arrival gate and departure gate were right next to each other, allowing me 1 quick stop in the restroom — to pee. And change Maja’s diaper. Maja did really well in her carseat on the plane. The only “issue” was that she could kick the seat infront of her if the person in the seat infront of her reclined their seat. We removed her shoes to soften the blows… but Maja’s a good kicker.

Upon arrival in Phoenix, we got the rental car and drove to the hotel — Maja fell asleep in the car. We then spent the rest of the afternoon at… the ZOO! The Phoenix zoo rocks — it’s big and the animals (esp. the elephants) have a lot of space to roam. We liked the monkeys and the orangutans.

Day 2/3: Grand Canyon – a great big scary abyss

We stopped at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and did a hike among the lava flows, saw the Painted Desert, drove through Flagstaff, and then took the east entrance, through the Navajo Indian Reservation to Grand Canyon National Park.

lava flow

painted desert

The Grand Canyon is amazing. Not so good for someone who doesn’t like peering into an abyss from the edge of a rocky cliff … but still, it was breathtaking. I highly recommend putting toddlers in a backpack carrier — strollers are ok, but they’ve got wheels and there are rocks and unpaved paths and well, a REALLY DEEP AND SCAREY canyon that they could roll/fall into.

It was difficult to photograph the Grand Canyon — to capture the depth, variation, colours, and grandness of it on camera.
On the first afternoon, we did the Desert View drive along the south rim. This included stopping at the Watchtower, Moran Point, and Grandview Point.
On the second day we did the rim walk from the
Canyon View Info Plaza to Bright Angel Lodge. Richard carried Maja in the backpack carrier and she amused herself by playing with his hat.

Grand Canyon

Day 4/5/6: Sedona

Red Rock Country! Sedona is pretty. We took the approach down from Flagstaff through the Oak Creek Canyon — which was simply stunning. We did a few daytrips out from Sedona: Arcosanti; Montezuma’s Castle; Cathedral on the rocks; Tlaquepaque; Jerome. Again, it was difficult to capture the essence of the surrounding scenery on camera. I finished my lemongrass socks and photographed them in Jerome! I started my Green Mtn Madness socks. I bought some more Koigu in a colourway that reminds me of the Grand Canyon.

Sedona

Arcosanti

Hiking with Maja was… well, let’s be honest: torturous. Mainly she tortured whoever was carrying her in the backpack. Oh, it all began innocently enough – a happy little Maja being carried around. But then, she got bored. And started exploring. She poked her fingers in my ears (Ears!! Mama ears!!) and started pulling my earring; then she reached around my head to grab my glasses (Glasses!!) ; then she needed to point to my nose (Nose!!) – this was accompanied by grabbing my head and trying to turn it 180 degrees – then she grabbed fistfuls of my hair and started pulling. When NONE of these tactics were sufficient for me to take her out of the carrier and release her to the desert to be bitten by poisonous snakes or spiders, she resorted to her last tactic: head butts. Bam bam bam. That’s it!!!! Dad’s turn to carry Maja.

hiking with Maja

Day 7/8/9: Phoenix and Maja utters her first sentence

Phoenix = sprawl. It’s big, it’s un-distinctive, it’s unnatural. Cacti. Dirt. More dirt. Sun. Oh, the sun. Blinding, painfully bright sun, especially in the evenings when it comes straight into your eyes as you’re driving — like sharp nails being hammered into your head. How do people cope with it? I had my sunglasses on and the visor of my hat pulled down as far as it would go — and still, I was in pain! We were plagued with great plans, inadequate maps, and much much much road construction with detours. I despise orange detour signs. Despite it all, Richard forged on and took Maja to some buildings, museums, and other activities while I attended my conference. In my downtime we went to some wacko restaurants, and visited Taliesen West, the Desert Botanical Garden, and the Science Center.

Desert Botanical Garden

Taliesen West

Perhaps it was the water, or the fact that Maja spent 10 days one-on-one with her parents — but her vocabulary skyrocketed. We counted her words, and NOT including proper names she’s well up to 60 words and she can count to 10. Freakazoidal child. She also uttered her first sentence: Daddy, daddy the bed sit. Translation: Dad, sit on the bed. She’s stringing 2 words together: no stroller! maja dino! And, all of her utterances have an exclamation point behind them. Orange! Abbaba ( = applesauce)! No!!! Nnnnnno! Maja up! Dino! Dada! Mama! up! down! no! go! octopus! pen! rock! canyon!

We arrived back in Philadelphia on Monday afternoon. Richard immediately rushed off to retrieve Emerson from the pet resort. Poor guy, he smelled different — like the cleaners they use in pet stores. And he’s awfully scruffy.

Regarding travelling with a toddler, I have a few pointers:

1. boxed milk (i.e. L’il Milk or Parmalat)

2. disposable bibs

3. disposable sippy cups

4. dishsoap and J-cloths

5. jacknife — for opening boxed milk, cutting up fruit, peeling oranges, slicing cheese…

6. lots of snacks

7. dedicated toy bag with stickers, books, and other small activities

8. your own crib sheets (not all hotels provide fitted sheets for the cribs)

9. if possible, get a suite in a hotel, so you can put baby to sleep in one room and still have a life in the other (i.e. read, knit, watch t.v.); if you’re really feeling decadent, get a suite with a kitchen — then you can have a leisurely breakfast and dinner, saving your money for a nice lunch while you’re out and about. The suite may cost more money, but in the long run you’ll save $$ by being able to cook your own brekkie and dinner.

10. if 9 isn’t possible, drape a blanket (carefully, remember, the goal is just to block light!) over the crib so you can still read/knit until you’re ready to go to bed — then remove the blanket.

11. drive during nap times

carseat sleeper

12. find the following: public park with a playground; the zoo; a children’s museum (i.e. a science center or something like Philly’s Please Touch, etc.); hotel with a pool; a grocery store

13. for restaurants: ask for a plastic cup with a lid and a straw; go somewhere that has entertainment or where your child can wander around; go to diners where the service is fast

14. if the child is mobile, get them their own seat on the airplane. Sure, it costs $$, but it will save your sanity. And to me, that’s priceless.

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7 Comments »

  1. Just had to say – the last photo is priceless! Too cute!

    Comment by Liz — November 9, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

  2. Very nice pictures!

    Comment by Margot — April 3, 2008 @ 7:49 am

  3. love the traveling tips. totally agree! series of sleeping car photos is adorable.

    Comment by Classy Mommy — June 12, 2008 @ 8:40 pm

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